Youth group leaders and others invited to spend some ‘intergenerational holy moments’
by Mari Graham Evans | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Delegations from as far as Indonesia and all over the U.S. are gearing up for five sweaty, charged and delight-filled days at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium (PYT) at Purdue University July 16-20. While it’s a youth-focused event, adults will have the opportunity for their own enlightenment by accessing the Adult Learning Track offering.
This year’s learning opportunity will be led by Brian Frick, Associate for Christian Formation (and Camp and Conference Ministry) of the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Rev. Dr. Jason Santos, Mission Coordinator for Christian Formation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Framed in the context of “intergenerational holy moments,” this three-day workshop “explores how cultivating IG [intergenerational] moments help anchor a deeper faith and a multi-layered understanding of Christian community,” according to the Triennium website. “Join the staff of the Office of Christian Formation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency as we delve into this rich topic and explore a fuller vision for the church and the future of youth ministry.”
Intergenerational formation, according to Santos, is where “two or more generations intersect one another in a mutually transformative and inclusive way.”
“The ‘intergenerational’ part implies not just generations together, but rather an intersection,” Santos says. “We use words like ‘mutuality’ and ‘reciprocity’ and ‘inclusion’ in the language of [intergenerational formation].”
“Basically, multiple generations together forming a faithful community. So how are we forming a congregation that includes everybody?” adds Frick.
Intergenerational ministry is characterized by an equal exchange, which means “participation both in leadership and receiving by multiple generations. It’s not teaching, like me teaching children,” Frick says. “It’s us being together in a [particular] setting.”
According to Santos, participants attending the Adult Learning Track can expect to get “a better understanding of intergenerational formation and how it fits within the church and a better understanding of how central that type of formation is for the identities that youth are developing in high school or junior high ministry.”
More than information, participants will also get time together to process through what they are learning and share with each other the stories from their own experiences.
“A small church might only have a few youths; they don’t really have a youth group,” says Frick. “So, what does that mean? There will be all different size churches and leaders coming to Triennium.
“So, we will be talking about an overall way of being church, but they are also going to have some time to begin, because it’s a long process,” Frick explains. “This is not something where you go, ‘Wow, if I just start doing this … solved.’ It’s the beginning of an understanding.”
Now in its fourth iteration, the Adult Learning Track is an opportunity for adult advisers at Triennium to enjoy some “focused, professionally planned and led continuing education focused on the Christian faith formation of youth,” according to the Triennium website.
Some may express surprise that something that’s adult-focused is offered at a youth-centered event such as Triennium.
“Triennium tends to draw a large amount of youth ministry leaders from congregations. Many of the youth leaders are very experienced in accompanying young people but do not have continuing education budgets or additional time to travel,” says Gina Yeager-Buckley, Mission Associate for Formation (PYT and Youth Ministries) for the Presbyterian Mission Agency “Most adults who attend Triennium are coming on their vacation time.”
“As is the case in many Presbyterian churches — adults who serve among youth, children, intergenerational ministries, young adult ministries — are grassroots (people) trained in Christian formation,” Yeager-Buckley says. “They learn ‘in the youth room,’ ‘in the van going to serve in a mission experience,’ ‘teaching Sunday school’ — these are the most profound ways of learning. And it’s also nice to have intentional training/learning with fellow volunteers or ministry leaders, taught with research, creativity and understanding.”
Presbyterian Youth Triennium is a gathering for high school age youth from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that occurs every three years. The 2019 event is July 16-20, 2019 at Purdue University. The theme for the 2019 event is “Here’s My Heart.” The Presbyterian Youth Triennium is supported by your gifts to the Pentecost Offering.
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